Monday, December 28, 2009

A Year in Review-2009

Yeah, that's right, as you can tell from the title I'm going to do a write up on 2009 and my personal highlights both on and off the bike.

So, where to begin? Oh, I know! Internet accomplishments:

The Internet
I really did a lot this year on the interwebs, quite a bit in fact. Well, I helped a lot with the ECCC, where I was a webmaster, but mostly just updated calendars, results, etc... I also started the ECCC Blogosphere which turned out to be amazing! The blogosphere got a huge response, garnering over 600 hits on mondays following race weekends during the ECCC road season, that's nearly 2/3 of the conference. As a result of this effort I was also a featured speaker at the Echelon Collegiate Leadership Conference at Collegiate Road Nats this past spring. Also, (with some help from Sully) did my 2nd ECCC Road Survey, which is as usual was ridiculous. I wrapped up the year by launching the New England Cyclocross Blogosphere, which also got a good response and I eventually caved in and got my self a twitter.

This year I also had a major lifetime accomplishment by graduating "on time" from Union College with a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Which, needless to say is a fantastic feeling and I was then unfortunately in the position of graduating into the worst job market in twenty years, but I ended up having two jobs for about 5 months. Oh and I also finalized my senior project of designing a full suspension linkage system for a mountain bike, I didn't get to build it, but it was a fun academic task.

Bike Racing
Well, as they say on Marketplace, "lets do the numbers:"
  • I raced for 4 different teams (Union College, North Atlantic Velo, Green Line Velo and Wheelworks)
  • I had 30 mass starts on the road, between training races, collegiate races and USCF events.
  • I had 25 starts in cyclocross
  • I raced in 12 different states (CO, CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT)
  • I had TWO top tens (both in Cyclocross)
Other highlights on the bike:
Photos of the Year

(NAV taking Charge at the Saratoga Crit)

(Pinning it during the Yale Crit)
(Supa-Fast at the Cycle Smart International)

Moving On...
I guess the last part of the year has been great too, as previously mentioned, life is pretty awesome. I currently live in Colorado, I'm heading to Israel next year for 5 months and I'll be back stateside in August, when I actually have to start my life, but who knows.

Lastly, I just want to thank all my friends, at school, at work, in racing, from home for making this such a great year and hopefully I'll keep it up in 2010.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

5 Reasons Life is Awesome Right Now

Oh, so much has happened recently, and it's collectively been great. So, I guess I'll just dive straight into the list, (in no particular order).

1) The Ice Weasels Cometh! As mentioned previously, it was the best race ever. I haven't had that much fun at an event in a while. I was even complimented on the interwebs on my incredible commentating skills on the PA: "Steve H. who turns out has some real announcing experience from the collegiate racing scene. The kids got potential." So, all I have to say is I'm coming for your jobs Richard Fries and Dave Towle!!! I also found a photo of me at the Weasels:

(I've got mad skills, photo: lodri)

2) 23rd Birthday was on Dec. 14! Yeah, I'm older, it's pretty sweet. Had a bunch of people given me calls, e-mails, facebook posts, etc... so thanks all. Got some good presents and a great dinner with the family.

3) Going to Israel next year! That's right, I'm heading off to the mother land for 5 months from March until August of 2010 to live in Tel Aviv. While there I'll be in an internship and while there I'm definitely going to crush some souls in the mountain bike race scene, maybe on the road too if I can figure out how to get 2 bikes and gear over there.

4) I moved to Colorado! After 3 days or so of driving (photos) I made it to my winter residence in Longmont, CO. I'm renting a room from ECCC alum, and Pro MTB'er/Crosser Kat Statman and his Fiancée Shannon until my aforementioned trip to Israel. The weather's great, the skiing is going to be good, and I'll have plenty of time to ride bikes too. I spent my second day in town on a short MTB ride with Kate, which involved the following:

5)Ski Season! Oh, it's December, the temps are dropping, the snows are falling and I got a sweet birthday present: Season Pass to Arapaho Basin, Breckenridge and Keystone. Can't wait to hit the slopes.

In summation, life is good. I may need to get a job soon, but I can manage for a bit.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Ice Weasels Came... and KICKED ASS!

Ok, I may have said earlier that Northampton was the best weekend of the cross season, I'm going to amend that. The Ice Weasels Cometh rocked! Using a very scientific scoring method which took in the amount of free beer, snow, donut hand-ups, heckling, heckling over the PA, general chaos, huge crowds and free beer I've made the following chart to illustrate just how cool the weasels was:
How It Went Down:
I signed up for the cat 3 race, and learned upon arrival that I'd be racing with the master's 35+ cat 3's as well, bringing the field to about 40 starters. Which was a new thing and kinda co0l. Anyways, thanks to my points I got a pretty sweet third row start. I immediately tried to be really crafty and take the right hand line over the cabbage to get to the front with no success and settled in the top 10. Then the race lined out as we went through the first lap and I tried my best to settle in with the leaders. But I got distracted when the AWESOME CROWD was screaming for us as we went through the barriers:

(Wicked Awesome Peeps! photo: Joshua Garlich)

So after the barriers the field to continued to line out and I just decided to ride my race. But on the 2nd lap I crashed on an icy turn around a tree and lost a spot, then at the end of the 2nd lap I crashed on another icy turn just after the finish line, and on the third lap I cased the barriers and fell on my face, but the crowd cheered me on and I got going again. So, on the fourth lap I took a beer feed at full speed going over the barriers while I was in 7th place or so and the crowd went nuts! That was great. From there I had a little back and forth with BU Matt, but he got away from me eventually and I wrapped up the season with a solid 10th place finish.

Post Race
After the race I immediately pounded some brews, then changed and ran over to the PA system to begin an afternoon of heckling via loudspeaker. I managed to get most of the people I know pretty well and hung there for the Women's Race and the Men's 1/2/3 race. The number 1 victim: Ryan Kelly. Who got double lapped, but had a six lap advantage on the leaders because he was awarded a lap by me for every beer he drank on course. Also, Kyle Smith took a beer feed, but his white shoes kept on going. There was guy in a speedo and Mike Rowell took third place on a single speed. Also, by some miracle Colin started way in the back and crushed souls to eventually finish in 5th, while taking dollar preems, and beer feeds. Everything was supa-fun and I got to meet Thom, who was chief assistant heckler on the day.

This report is kinda short, but the crowd was great, the course was great, the weather was cold, the beer was free, the heckling was first class and I had an enormous amount of fun. Very special thanks to Colin, Thom, Kevin, Wilcox and the others that put on the standard by which all over grassroots events should be compared!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ice Weasels Pre-Race Report!

Oh, I am so ready for the Ice Weasels. I'm excited, it's for sure the biggest race of the season, I think there's some other local race out in Oregon this weekend, but WHO CARES? I mean the race has WEASELS in the name! How could it not be awesome!

Anyways, I've got plans, big, enormous, outrageous, ludicrous, splendorous, fantastical plans for complete and utter domination in the 3/4 race. It's a big deal, a really, really big deal. Probably going to be the most important race I ever do in my life, way bigger than when I did collegiate nationals this spring, way bigger than Gloucester and way, way bigger than any Verge race, because honestly who cares about verge points? I don't!

So, over the last few weeks I've been building up to my training plan to peak just in time for the weasels, it wasn't that I had bad races out in Sterling or at NBX, not at all, I was actually just tapering in preparation for the Weasels. You know that old saying"go slower to get faster," that's exactly what I've been doing.... Because unlike everybody else I've been focusing my whole season around the Ice Weasels, so while everybody else is burned out I'll be ready and roaring to go. In fact, my heart rate is spiking in anticipation of 11am this Saturday at White Barn Farm, crap I better calm down so I can maximize my recovery.

Ahhhhh, deep breaths, Ahhhhh.

So I don't want to say to much and give away my secrets, but I'll leave you all with some pictures of what I've been doing in preparation:

The final result should look like this, but add cyclocross bikes and snow:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NBX Race Reports

I'll be pretty brief with these two race reports, because frankly they are both pretty uninteresting.

Day 1
On day one the weather was cold and wet and windy and I started in the 3rd to last row. I was wicked timid at the start and spent a while at the back of the race. About 2 laps in I was moving up and found myself around the usual suspects but for whatever reason I just couldn't get going, my heart rate was way low, I was not really psyched to race and I basically just phoned it in once I decided do ride the whole beach, which I did, but then I got pass by 15 people on the short run at the end. So, I kind of gave up and rode tempo the rest of the day, finishing 66th of 82 and not being lapped, which is pretty good especially when I actually tried last year and came in DFL on day 1.

(At the barriers on lap 1, I think I'm already giving up, Photo: lodri)

(Riding the beach "wicked fahr dude!" photo: lodri)

Oh and at one point I just threw my bike over the barriers and then ran to go pick it up to keep riding.

Day 2
On day 2 I was a bit more motivated, it had snowed the night before and the skies were clear and sunny. I started in the second to last row and moved up pretty quickly hearing from the fans that I had made my way into the top 25 or so, but I faded a bit as the race went on and finished in the 30's, it was a better day, a good way to cap off the season and the course was fun so I was happy. Although, I was hit with the sad realization that after 14 races I had accumulated exactly ZERO Verge points. I'll get 'em next year!

Wait, I forgot to mention that I had an epic battle with Johnny, how could I forget that! Right, so he started well in the back like me and about 3 laps in he had made it up to my wheel, so I tried my best to get a gap and get rid of any stench of UVM that would be anywhere near me and I thought I lost him. But on the last lap after the second beach section Johnny had made his way back up to me and was right on my wheel. So I did something really crafty, I sat on a Corey Masson's wheel until the very last woods section and passed Corey on the inside of a turn, leaving only one inch between Corey and a Tree for Johnny to sneak through. And I put on the gas, but the little basterd wouldn't go a way and he managed to get back on my wheel down the finishing straight, I tried to out sprint him, but he just came around me at the end. Actually, I wasn't sprinting, I let him take 33rd because it was his birthday and I'm a nice guy like that.

Oh, by the way thanks Matt, for telling me to ride through that big puddle each lap, my toes froze over!

Day 2 Heckles:
  • "Steve you look pretty!" - Colin
  • "Make me proud or make me laugh!" -Liz
  • "Steve- Johnny's coming to get you!" -Hamlin
  • "Steve, are you kidding me? Quit phoning it in!" -Bramhall?
  • "Wheelworks, you know you want a cookie feed!" -Anonymous
Stay tuned for my Ice Weasels preparation report!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wednesday Night Super Prestige Finals Race Report

Yeah, that's right, I'm doing a WNSP race report! Why? because I don't want to talk about Baystate 'Cross, and WNSP is way cool.

The field was stacked. I couldn't believe it, there was UCI points hero Pete Bradshaw, the Alpha Colin ,McKittrick , the former enemy #1, Mashburn, Mr. White Sidi's Smith, Matt, Yash, Natalia, and Christine, along with a few others. Also, the weather was freakishly warm for a December night, a balmy 50 degrees and I knew that I was in trouble I hate racing when it's hot. So with these two key factors I imeditaly assumed that my ass was going to be handed to me on a silver platter.

Right, so we set up the bikes for the lemans start in the dark and line up a 20 meters away. Matt cheated by using a rock to prop his bike upright, while the rest of us had to pick up our rigs from the grass. So the Alpha Colin gives the "GO" and wins the hole shot, because he's a cheater, but then he dialed it back a bit because he, "felt bad about it." Meanwhile I run to my bike and get entangled with McKittrick who inadvertantly knocks my bike over while I'm picking it up. But soon after we get going and I find myself in a respectable 4th position behind Bradshaw, Kyle Smith and McKittrick. Things stay this way for the first few laps as I try my darndest to hang up with the big boys.

Sometime later though McKitttrick and I get gapped a little bit, and I do a huge pull to get us up to Kyle, the Alpha Colin and Bradshaw. Whew, what a relief, just as I get ready to sit up and recover the Alpha Colin attacks and Mckittrick pulls through to try and cover. But we can't.

Then McKittrick crashes soon after, around a tight corner while muttering "fucking file treads" and I'm all alone trying to catch the leaders. But by know McKittrick is bearing down upon me again, with Glowa and a Back Bay Rider with him. A lap or so later they catch me and all 3 pass me. I try disparately to hang on but I get gapped and can't close it down. So I ride another few laps by myself before dropping out.

Then I watched for a bit, jumped in again on the Bradshaw/Alpha Colin train and followed them around for a few laps, dropped out again and then got the Bradshaw train for the last 2 laps. It was fun to sit on while those two duked it out.

Post race was Burritos and Beer (hosted by the Alpha Colin), made some new friends and rode 45 minutes home in the rain before passing out for the evening.

Great way to end the WNSP season.

NBX up this weekend.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Am Fastest Guy Without a Verge Point!

Ok, well not really, according to the data I am actually the 2nd fastest guy without a Verge point. (DAMN YOU OWEN POPE!) Which is like being the king of the losers to the king of the losers, it's sad, it's pathetic, and it is gosh darn frustrating.

So remember way back when I changed my season goals? Yup, I've failed, although I do have MAC points... Whatever, I've had fun along the way. At least I'm leaps and bounds over teammate Jeff Z, JElie, BU Matt, and Dave Chiu's Carbon wheels.

Other titles for the fastest guy without a verge point are:
  • Captain of the USS Mediocrity
  • Lord of Shit Island
  • The Fastest Guy to Not Go Fast
  • Chairman of the "Almost There" Club
  • King of the Guys who place 26th->40th
  • His Emmence, the Ruler of Suck
These were the rules:
-Only applies to Verge NECCS Races.
-Riders that have finished in the points (Top-25) are not eligible.
26th -10pts, 27th-9pts, 28th-8pts, 29th-7pts, 30th-6pts, 31st-5pts,32nd-4pts, 33rd-3pts, 34th-2pts, 35th->40th-1pt. (Last one because that means you're usually top half)
-Valid for riders that have competed in at least 4 Verge NECCS Races.

Oh, and if he hadn't gotten his lone top 25 this weekend, Bramhall would be the fastest guy without a Verge Point.

Lastly, I'm implementing a rule that anyone who has Verge Points is banned from the 3/4 race at Ice Weasels! Wait, I'm not sure I have that kind of power....yet. Ok, I'll give you endless grief about it.

Thanks to Colin for data wrangling.

Ok, NBX is now a last ditch effort to not suck.